Just a few things a flight attendant doesn’t want to hear

1. BRACE! – I’ll bet you there wasn’t a flight attendant in the world who did not open their flight manual and review the ditching procedures right after seeing what an amazing job the US Airways crew did evacuating a flight after landing in the Hudson River. On my last flight from New York to Chicago, out of La Guardia, you better believe I felt for my life vest under my jumpseat and did a quick 30 second review of our emergency evacuation procedures before take-off. While I know what I have to do, do you know you should do when the flight crew yells BRACE!

2. QUICK, I NEED A BARF BAG! – The last time I heard these dreaded words I happened to be standing in the first class galley. A passenger from coach came running all the way up the aisle and proceeded to throw up all over the lead flight attendant who was holding an open plastic bag, two commuting flight attendants sitting on the jumpseat, the cockpit door, the first class galley counter, and all over the linoleum floor. The sick woman pretty much made a semi-circle from the entry door to the coffee pots, hitting everything in sight – except for me, thank God. I felt really bad for her. I felt even worse for the other flight attendants. But it was Chris, a fellow coworker, who got the worst of it. When he bent over to clean up the vomit with a little shovel and crystals that turn barf into a foamy gel, his cell phone fell out of his starched shirt pocket and smack dab into the mess.

3. I PROBABLY FLY MORE THAN YOU DO – That’s the phrase that bothers my friend Anthony, a flight attendant for a foreign carrier, the most. It’s what usually follows next that bothers me – I’M A (insert frequent flier status here)! Even so, that doesn’t give you the right to do whatever it was you were doing that you were asked to stop doing, something you already know you shouldn’t be doing, given the miles you’ve flown. Now turn it off and put it away.

4. CAN I HAVE A GLASS OF WATER – SO I CAN TAKE A PILL Passengers don’t realize how quickly airplanes are turned around. Before I even have a chance to stow my crew bags and check the emergency equipment to make that it’s there and working, passengers are already making their way down the aisle to their seats. Boarding is by far the busiest time for a flight attendant. Half the time we haven’t even had a chance to set up the galley when passengers, five seconds after walking aboard the airplane, come running to the back of the aircraft to ask for “pill water.” Which is why we sometimes look a little flustered by the request.

5. SO DOES THAT MEAN THE ALCOHOL IS FREE? Whenever an announcement is made that there’s going to be a delay, nine times out of ten a passenger (or four) will ask if the alcohol is free, and freak out when it’s not free, because when it rains or snows or the airplane has a mechanical, free alcohol is always the solution. I mean who doesn’t want to get trapped in a flying tube for hours on end with a bunch of drunk passengers?

6. YOU’RE HOLDING US HOSTAGE! Luckily the only passenger I’ve ever heard use this phrase was celebrity passenger who is known for her magazine and television show. She made this announcement years ago in the first class galley after sitting on the tarmac in New York for over an hour due to icy weather conditions at the airport. We were flying to Bermuda. After the crew explained that we could not go back to the gate and lose our spot for take-off just for her she eventually sat back down and surprisingly did not say another word. My coworker Florence, who found herself with a three hour air traffic control hold in Chicago on a full Super80 flight with hysterical passengers – two who were claustrophobic and one who kept threatening to sue because the airline was holding him hostage, announced, ‘And how do you think I feel?” My sentiments exactly. No one likes a delay, including flight attendants.


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